Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: East West Virginia
I own both, and would be happy to discuss anything specific with you.
Having said that though, the DR650 is a great bike, but it is a big single. I personally love big singles, and have owned a lot of them. But if you haven't yet, they might not be your cup of tea.
The DR is lighter, easier to maneuver, better off-road, etc. But it is not fuel injected, and it gets a lot less mileage than the V-strom 650.
As badjuju said, this decision really turns on what kind of riding you're more likely to do. The DR650 is certainly capable of around-the-world riding, but it's not going to have the same kind of highway performance as the V-strom. If you like being able to pass slower vehicles on the highway, the V-strom can do that a lot easier. And it's pretty good on dirt roads, but serious off-roading is not for a V-strom without significant upgrading that is likely to put you into a category where you should have bought a KTM in the first place.
I can honestly say I've owned well over 100 bikes, and the DR650 has been my favorite. It's not particularly fast, or pretty, or really anything. But it's reliable, comfortable, doesn't ask for much maintenance, and it's kind of like a loyal old dog. Always happy to ride anywhere, whether it's truly capable or not.
I strongly recommend you go ride both of them. If you lived closer I'd let you take mine, and truly recommend you spend a full day on each (although the dealer and seller probably won't want you to do that). Only then can you really know what is going to "fit" you better for the long term.
They're both great mounts, and you'll not go wrong with either one. They're both solid and trouble free, with tons of aftermarket support. But if you really want to start doing your own maintenance and mods, the DR650 is probably the better choice. Particularly if days-long tours aren't going to be part of your routine. If you're into looks, the V-Strom is better looking, and the DR650 looks like an ugly bulldog but you can drop it and beat it up and it'll still be happy for the next ride. My DR650 has been used to teach a lot of new riders how to ride, and it's been dumped dozens of times, and still it always starts and runs. I don't think the V-Strom would be as resilient.